Every 4 years the swooping community is blessed to be able to take part in the prestigious World Games. This event is one step below the Olympics as is used as a feeder hub to bring new sports into the Olympics. This year it was held in Wroclaw, Poland. 3,000 people came out to watch Alter Ego and the rest of the world compete in Canopy Piloting. This competition was a bit different than normal, it included 3 freestyle rounds as well as the normal events, making it a 12-round competition. Nick Batsch came out of a 15 month retirement to compete, having been giving a wildcard slot alongside Jeannie Bartholomew. Returning World Games winner Curt Bartholomew also represented the United States as well as Team Alter Ego. Curt came back early from a shoulder dislocation just to defend his title, meaning he and Nick had their work cut out for them. This was also Jeannie’s first (BEER!) time competing at a World meet. The scoring system was also different at this competition. The organizers made an attempt to simplify the scoring making it easier for the public to follow and quicker as well. Each round everyone was ranked by the best score, so for the farthest distance the competitor was awarded one point, the next farthest swoop was awarded 2. The pilot with the lowest number of points at the end of 12 rounds wins.
The meet started out with Speed. The conditions were great and all the pilots put down awesome runs. Nick came out firing and put down very fast times, picking up where he left off his competition career. Curt struggled with his shoulder but kept up with everyone at the front, while Jeannie also put down very impressive runs. A few Distance runs came after that and Curt really struggled with his bad shoulder, only having 4 weeks of rest, but still kept up with the big names. These distance runs were no water drag and the competitors had to stay under a 1.5 meter high gate at 70 meters. Nick put down impressive runs as usual in distance and Jeannie wasn’t far behind, having put a lot of training into her distance runs. Zone Acc saw a high headwind and a lot of really good scores. Curt struggled with his shoulder again and came up short on one round, pushing him out of 1st place overall. Nick bumped up into the lead with 3 really good scores. With all the ties the scoring went back and forth due to the new system and it really shook up how the meet panned out. It was an unexpected result, and one that might cause that scoring system to never be used again. Freestyle also shook up the scoreboard quite a bit, with differing opinions on whether or not it should have even been part of the meet among the competitors. Curt’s shoulder didn’t bother him much during this event and his results put him in first for freestyle, and got him back into 2nd place overall. The final round saw Curt put down the first 4 move combo in competition with a Boomerang Lazyboy Switchblade Cowboy. Jeannie climbed the rankings as well and got herself up to 13th place overall. After the final round of distance, Nick came out with the Gold, Curt the Silver, and Jeannie had moved up to 12 overall in the World Standings. It was a great meet and we look forward to being involved in the next World Games in US home soil in 2021!